This is part 3 on Tiffany Porter, by Stuart Weir. Stuart enjoyed his interviews with Tiffany, and watching her and her sister, Cindy, compete. This is ten questions with Tiffany Porter, reflecting on her career.
Tiffany Porter, Moscow 2013, photo by World Athletics
Reflecting on a career as a pro athlete: Ten questions for Tiffany Porter, who announced her retirement a couple of months back
1. One career highlight?
Oh man, Stuart, that is so difficult but I genuinely feel I am so fortunate to have experienced such incredible highs during my career, so many great experiences – like coming back after pregnancy – and that after pregnancy, I could make my third Olympic games, to win four World Championship medals, to be able to attend three Olympic games with my husband, two as an athlete and one as a coach, to be able to experience going to the Olympics with my baby sister, breaking the British record in the 100 hurdles and the 60 hurdles, going to Australia for the Commonwealth Games. The list goes on and on so it’s very difficult for me to pinpoint one thing and say it is my crowning achievement. But I will say one thing that I am very proud of – that I, 100 percent, always did everything clean. And that is one message that I really want to push to the next generation – to my daughter and her generation and the ones that come after her, that you can accomplish a lot on the track, doing it clean, having integrity, not cutting corners, doing it the right way. And of all the great things I’ve been fortunate to experience, that is one thing I am very proud of.
2. Is there one medal that you are particularly proud of?
Man, that is really tough because I think that in every season in life, every medal as you achieve it, it signifies something so unique at that moment. I don’t want to take away from anything but I will say that the Moscow 2013 outdoor World Championship medal was very, very special. And also the 2021 European Indoor medal after having my daughter was very special given that I didn’t know whether I would come back to the sport. So to be able to come back and be rewarded with a medal was very special.
3. You once told me that you had a principle of not letting your highs get too high or your lows get too low. Do you look back on your career with any disappointment?
Absolutely. I think that is literally part of the journey. It would be remiss to pretend that those disappointments didn’t happen but the key that I think contributed to my longevity in the sport is how you bounce back from the disappointments. That may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. Life happens. You have those times when you’re supposed to perform and things just don’t go your way. But how do you bounce back and do better next time; do you just wallow in your sorrow or use it as motivation to do better. So I definitely did experience disappointments in my career.
But as you mentioned a mantra that I adopted early on was “Never let my highs get too high or my lows get too low”. If you have great performance – awesome, but keep it moving, learn from it and go to the next one. If you have a poor performance, learn from it and go to the next. And I am definitely happy to have had a long and successful career.
4. One World Championship medal is brilliant but in Beijing, you were 2/100th from a medal and nearly won the race. In Daegu you were beaten by three people who ran PRs in the final. So you were so close to two more medals?
You know what, I don’t even look at it that way. I look at it more ‘how did I respond after those moments?’ What I was able to achieve after that because a lot of people when they do have those disappointing moments, are not able to get back. But that’s all you hear of them. But in my case, I’m more proud of what I achieved after those disappointments.
5. 2012 you were in brilliant form indoors and then picked up an injury at the wrong time in an Olympic year?
Yes, but that happens. 2012 you have that disappointment and in 2013 you go on to win a World Championship medal. So for me, it’s the bounce-back story that I will continue to appreciate on the journey.
Tiffany Porter and Cindy Sember, 2021 European Indoor Athletics, Torun, Poland, photo by World Athletics
6. What was technically your best ever race?
One race would be the Continental Cup in 2014. It was the last race of the season, and I was just ready to go home and enjoy the off-season. I wasn’t expecting to run fast; I was just literally enjoying the moment. So to go there and run the British record which still stands to this day, is definitely a moment that resonates with me and also a testament that sometimes the preparation doesn’t need to be perfect for you to have a fantastic performance. I remember that race feeling very easy. I remember looking back and not remembering my mistakes. It is a very memorable moment in my career.
7. Who would you say was the best hurdler in your era?
Oh, man, that is so hard. Everyone just had their moment. Sally Pearson was dominating for a long time. You can’t have that conversation without mentioning Dawn Harper or Kendra Harrison, the current world record holder, Nia Ali – there are so many awesome competitors that I was privileged to run against, whom I respect as competitors and as women. I don’t know how I can answer the question but from a medals perspective, Dawn and Sally’s resumés are pretty special.
8. Is there a case for saying that you were stronger over 60 than 100?
I would not say that because I think my resumé speaks for itself in terms of global medals for both distances. I certainly loved and appreciated both events but I wouldn’t say that I was better at the 60 hurdles than the 100 hurdles. I have fond memories of running both races,
9. What were your strengths as an athlete?
Oh man, that’s a good question. There’s the physical aspect and the mental aspect. Physically I am naturally very strong and powerful. Work in the weights room translates clearly onto the track for me. I was very fortunate to stay injury free for the majority of my career and that, 100%, contributed to my longevity in the sport. I also think that my mental toughness was second to none. My husband says it’s uncoachable but it’s just back there. Some athletes have it and others don’t. But mentally I was always very tough. I never got rattled or intimidated by anybody. When I was out, I was fearless. I definitely think that helps.
10. In the 2021 European indoors, you didn’t run well in the prelim but didn’t have nailed it in the final. Is that mental toughness, experience or what?
Like you said experience. There is an art to being able to run rounds and not getting caught up in the prelim. I had been running so well but then in the prelim, it was awful. Some athletes would use that experience to clam up and not perform well in the semi and final. But I said ‘No, that is not going to be my story. I am going to use all my experience and years of having done this before to bounce back for the next round’ and ultimately the final is what matters. So I think that was a testament to my longevity in the sport, which contributes to what made that medal so special
Tiffany Porter has a new blog at https://tiffofili.com/blog/
Leave a Reply